Saturday, July 5, 2014

How I quit Instagram and found true happiness

And doesn't that sound like a self-help mubbly jubbly blog post title?

Instagram

Over 5 weeks ago I quit Instagram.

First I should preface the following post to state that I loved using Instagram, seeing others and what they were making, growing and experiencing.  I had just a touch under 1500 followers (which personally I found a little ridiculous and also out-of-control), and followed about 700 interesting people.  Some of those people were real life friends. Others were people I consider close online friends - people I correspond with outside of Instagram. The rest I wouldn't have known at all - I admired them greatly and would probably never meet them, but that was ok.

Instagram

I know a lot of people get frustrated with Instagram - they never feel good enough, or slim enough, or whatever enough.  That's not me. I am who I am, and am perfectly happy with who I am, and not once did I feel inadequate based on someone else's life, or quilts, or amazing garden, or amazing garment. Instead I felt inspired! Look at that amazing technique! I should try that sometime. Ooh I love that t-shirt on that girl in New Mexico. I should look that pattern up.

So what was my problem then?

1. I was addicted to checking Instagram. I would check while waiting for a meeting to start, waiting for the bus or my coffee, and after waking up in the middle of the night from a bad dream.  Worst of all, I would check while I was spending it with pretty fine company.  Just for a minute. Maybe answer a comment, maybe add a comment. But how freaking rude is that? I hated it when people did it to me. It had to stop.

2. I started finding my own behaviour obnoxious.  Yes, I'm talking about taking photos of my food.  It wasn't even that amazing, but I just had to share it, you know?

Instagram

3. I shared about 5% of my life on Instagram. But some people thought it was my whole life and would comment and judge accordingly. And I started getting tired of sharing that 5%. I wanted my life back for myself.

4. There are a few rude, judgmental and passive-aggressive people on Instagram. Everyone is entitled to a bad day, but if they were repeat offenders I would just block them or ignore them.

5. The sky looks bluer when viewed with your own eyes, and not with a filter on Instagram. It really does.

Instagram

The morning I deleted my account I actually felt sick. Even though I'd given it a lot of thought and done a lot of research, I regretted it immediately.  I knew I would miss my friends, and miss the inspiration I got from all those gorgeous photos.  I arrived at the bus stop in the freezing rain and for the first time in years I didn't check my phone to see who had loaded photos in the ten minute walk from my home to Northbourne Avenue. Ten seconds later a very old friend showed up at the bus stop.  I would not have noticed her if I'd had my head buried in my phone. We talked all the way into town and it was the perfect start to my day.

Instagram

That day three more "instances of connectivity" (as I have come to call them) happened that definitely wouldn't have happened if I'd been checking my now-deleted account.  By 6 pm I knew it was the best decision I could have made. I have been feeling more connected with the world ever since.

Suddenly I have more time. I am sewing more. I am not worrying about why he or she doesn't comment on my photos as much as they used to. I don't have that dilemma about whether I should be a private or public Instagrammer. I don't feel dirty that I was using IG as a business and marketing tool sometimes. I am sleeping better. When I wake from a bad dream, I get out of bed and walk to the kitchen and get a glass of water. My I-things are powered off at night. My mobile phone bill is now much cheaper. I am spending more time with friends that doesn't involve me being a complete jerk and checking my phone every 10 minutes. I am spending more time with friends, full stop. If I am making a quilt and need an opinion, I will text a photo to friends and family instead.

I'm not photographing my dinner anymore.

I am looking up. (Seriously, you need to watch this.)

A few friends contacted me when they noticed I was gone from IG and commented that they missed my photos and would miss seeing what I was up to.  To this I say
  • If you had coffee or lunch or a chat with me every now and then you would know what I was doing and I would know what you were doing and the time we spent together would be more fulfilling than logging onto an app (and there's also that 5% of life thing I mentioned)
  • Email. Texting. Phoning. They are all good things. 
  • I am still blogging.  In fact, I am blogging more than I was before and I find it a much better use of time and creativity. In a discussion with a (real life) quilting friend recently who also blogs and instagrams, we agreed that we'd rather read 1000 words and 4 photos about the creation process than 4 words and a single photo and a whole lot of comments we have to trawl through to get the full story.
Instagram

Now this post is an extremely personal one.  I quit Instagram for my own reasons, to gain more useful time, and for my own happiness.  But I won't be judging anyone who is still on there. Everyone has to create the paths to their own happiness. Instagram used to do it for me, but the side-effects weren't worth it.  I am happier now, and I feel like I don't have to share every moment or every blue sky with 1500 other people to feel validated about how happy and lucky I am.

Instagram

Because I am extremely happy and lucky, and I don't need to take a photo to illustrate that.


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Disclaimer #1: I do still use Instagram occasionally as the Canberra Quilters instagrammer. I load the app onto my iphone, upload the photos I need to upload, check it for 24 hours in case there are any questions, and then delete it off my iphone again until the next time I need it.

Disclaimer #2: I originally thought I might just give myself a long break from IG, and so I registered a new name similar to my old name just in case (and to stop anyone else stealing it). Having really enjoyed not using it for 5 weeks and 2 days though, I seriously doubt I will be back.

(Edit: just as I uploaded this post I received a postcard from an old IG friend who I have actually met and it was wonderful! And she wrote beautiful things! The universe keeps sending me reminders of true friendship. I am so grateful). 

31 comments:

  1. I was once so hung up on replying to every comment, liking EVERYONE'S photo's. Now, it's now so important to me. I share what I want, reply when I have something else to say and comment when I want to. Although I still post every day (due to my photo-a-day thing, which I recently took a break from as well) I'm not much wrapped up in it all.
    I am actually thinking of studying photography! Something I never thought I would.
    Do you remember the time when we actually nearly did meet - at a market at the Dandelyne stall?!

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    1. I was the same! And then I found myself with the bad habit of just scrolling scrolling scrolling, and not even registering what the photos were of. That's when I realised I had an addiction to scrolling as much as an addiction to checking!

      I love photography. I am working hard to get back into it after being so lazy with the iPhone for so long! Good luck - your IG photos were always so beautiful to me, you'll be great!

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  2. Really well written post. I wholeheartedly agree with point 3 in particular. Right from the outset of starting my blog and joining IG, I decided not to share anything outside of quilting which was the prime reason I joined - to share all things quilty with like minded people. I didn't do it to create an air of mystery (as I know some think I do) and I'm sorry if it makes me seem unfriendly. I knew the only way I could 'control' these incursions into my life was to set very strict parameters on what to show. I've stuck to the 'only quilting' rule and it works for me. While I respect everyone's right to choose how they use IG, I am amazed at the level of life detail people will IG about - waiting at a bus stop/dentists/having a coffee/etc etc. I would find it exhausting to reveal all the nuances of my day and it would severely impact on my real world. I love the interaction social media gives us but just as in our real world, there is no way we can hope to have a 'share all aspects of my life' relationship with hundreds of people, so we shouldn't even attempt it in cyberspace.

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    1. I can't imagine you ever being unfriendly because of what you do or don't post! I think it's important to focus on one or two passions and feature that. I actually was guilty of taking photos while waiting in coffee lines. I bored even myself - most of the time I would delete them!

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  3. Very interesting post. I have never gotten into Instagram (I do have an account - which I never use to post pics, just to check some real life friends pics sometimes) - between blogs, Rav, Facebook and twitter, I don't have time for yet another form of social media - and hardly have time for those too. I agree that it can get to a point where we are spending so much time "connecting" with people via the Internet, that we don't connect enough in real life.

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    1. With your busy little family Jane I don't know how you find time for LIFE let alone social media! I agree IG is a good way of keeping up with friends who live far away, and I'll be honest that I will miss that aspect of it. But the rest of it? Not so much.

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  4. I still use Instagram but it's very low key and I like it that way. Even so, the other day I went and unfollowed all the people I was following because of the pretty pictures rather than the connection and it was good.

    I'm glad to see you blogging again Michelle, yay for old fashioned blogging!

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    1. I loved seeing you on IG. You are such a beautiful photographer Janet.

      Hooray for blogging! How old school are we both! Ha ha.

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  5. Great post...thanks for sharing your thoughts on this...our world is a little crazy these days and I'm glad the universe is rewarding your decision. You inspired me on IG with the Tonic T and I've made about 6 of them. Will enjoy reading your blog.

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    1. Hooray for the tonic Tee! Glad you've made them too. I'm waiting to finish a few deadlines and then I am so spending a day just cutting out and sewing tees! All my very old store bought ones are getting a little decrepit!

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  6. Finding what is real today is a bit of a challenge. Looking up is always good. Looking around is fulfilling and energizing for the brain. Being aware of life gives us real meaning. Everything in moderation...take care and congratulations on your call...surely it is for your quilt in the Modern Section!!!! See you at the show!

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    1. You are so right Kathy - finding out what is real is the real battle in all this. I wanted to be a genuine person, and I want to see other genuine people too. That's where IG just wasn't cutting it for me, but it certainly had its uses over the last couple of years!

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  7. oh that is SUCH an interesting and personally-confronting post Michelle!! I have gone from an Instagram obsession to a much more manageable relationship with it. I don't check it much at all - though I still do check it a few times each day - and I tend to use hashtags to check it, rather than just scroll. I had noticed I hadn't seen your pics lately - but I follow over 800 people (that's another whole issue, isn't it, really ...) so I miss lots of pics. I'm so thankful you shared this post, as it's given me food for thought. I LOVE instagram a lot, but my husband and kids do frequently comment that I check my phone too much ... so I think it's time to cut down a little more! I'll be looking forward to checking in with your blog more often on Bloglovin'! Cat xx

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    1. I have so much time on my hands now, Cat. I can hardly imagine how much time and energy I used to waste before checking, and worrying, and checking again. Life is so good!

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  8. Michelle, quite simply, you are fabulous, i feel honoured to call you my real-life friend and i TOTALLY understand your decision...i was the same with fbook until i deleted it, probably 1.5years ago and i have no other social media...it wasn't good for me personally either.. i have never missed it. Love you lots xx Jen

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    1. Jen you are so sweet and I am SO happy I met you! Here's to many more years of champs and bad fashion markets and sewing together!

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  9. Great post Michelle.
    I must say that I was hanging out for Instagram when it was only available on Apple and I had an android phone. I thought I was missing out on something totally amazing. Then it became available and I jumped on the bandwagon and then... well not much. Every now and then I post a picture there. Something usually for me, something that I don't want to forget. A moment. Something I'm proud of. Something that I find funny... but that's it. I don't really like to write much there or interact via the comments - I don't have time for that. I'm living my life. I prefer to interact with people via my laptop and keyboard where my thick and ageing fingers have a chance of keeping up with my mind.

    So glad to see you in this space more often. I like reading your thoughts, not just seeing your pics.

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  10. No wonder. I missed you. But its alright, it seems that it went better for you to be off IG, I am happy for you! Will meet again sometime!

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    1. It's people like you that I miss Amira! But it is better this way, for me anyway. I am sure we will meet up again as we used to before the days of instagram! And we both still blog.

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  11. This means more time for wine and tapas meetings, right? ;)

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    1. Hells YES! And champers and real conversations with lovely people!

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  12. Hi Michelle. I've never met you but hope to meet you some time. You must have known what's been going on in my head because I've been thinking this way about IG for a long time. I'm also a Christian so it does feel sometime I'm committing a sin spending so much time browsing IG
    I'm so glad yr blogging again and I'll be looking forward to reading your posts
    Thanks for inspiring our creative world with your talents and thanks for being proud of who you are.
    If I ever make it to Canberra show I'll make sure I introduce myself!
    (I'm deleting my IG account too. Thanks for giving me the nudge.

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    1. Gosh Stephanie - I would love to meet you sometime! You're not heading the quilt show Saturday are you? ;). Otherwise Canberra is LOVELY at the end of August when the quilt show is on! Rug up! We usually have a SCQuilters dinner too!

      I am sorry to see you are leaving IG - I know a lot of people will really miss you. But having done it, and loving the consequences, I really can't recommend deleting IG enough, especially if it makes you more grounded and HAPPIER!

      Look forward to see you over here Stephanie.

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  13. Good points Michelle. I might actually achieve more in my day if I didn't trawl thru IG. I recently had my smart phone die - too many drops and a trip around the S-bend! When I realised I couldn't get a new S5 on my plan until next yr, I was actually getting excited about a new non-smart handset. It didn't happen though as my hubby got my a sort-of-smart phone but it is slower and goes flat too quickly if I am on-line as much as I used to...not a bad thing as it is weaning me off my addiction - not sure I could go cold-turkey tho. Admire your bravery.

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  14. its kind of sad, when i do see a friend in person i feel like there is less to talk about. they already know whats been going on in my life, it was already posted on IG and facebook........

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  15. I've been sitting here tonight reading your blog and catching up on all your beautiful quilts and your wonderful achievements, finally i am reading about your decision to quit IG. Good for you and well done for breaking the habit. I miss your smiling face but i know I can always come and check out your blog for inspiration anytime :-)

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  16. Oh my word can we have a giant "amen" sister! Just yesterday my 14 year old step-daughter came to our house. I had not seen her in a month, I tried to engage in conversation and got 2 or 3 word responses, the smartphone got all the attention! I feel very worried about where all this is going. Thanks for the link ti the u tube I am sending it to several folks!!!!!!

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  17. Thank you for this post... I have been struggling to decide whether to add Instagram to my social media plate. It always seems like there are fun things going on there that I'm missing out on. But I'm already on FB, Pinterest and have a blog. I worried that Instagram would become another time suck for me... but I didn't really weigh the things I would miss out on in "real life" as part of the argument. Your post gives me some fine food for thought... and I didn't feel the need to take a pic of it! :)

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  18. Thanks for writing this post, I felt that you really captured what I dislike and love about instagram the most. I actually uninstalled instagram from my phone yesterday! And I have lost count of the number of times that I have tried to check it. Sometimes not even to really look at photos or read it captions, but just as a habit. It's so easy to feel crappy when a pic I uploaded wasn't as well received as other ones, and that alone should be a red flag!

    anyways, I feel a lot more relieved, and less FOMO having read your post. Thanks :)

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  19. I'm so glad you wrote this post, it should be shared with many. Nowadays I feel like everyone is almost the same...because of social media influencing them. As a teenager, it's hard not getting influenced because I'm trying to find who I am and I want to see what other people want to, too. I was thinking of getting Instagram as every teenage person would. I realized from the very start that I was beginning to get influenced by the society nowadays. But then I saw someone's account that posted beautiful photos not selfies, and I thought about it...(I have a account that I share with my friends but I do not go on regularly because I'm afraid of the bad influence.) I love photography and I've taken a few when I was a kid, no filters of course, and I thought about posting those because I never got the chance to "show off" my talent. I still don't know if I should get it. As a teenager do you think its worthwhile to get Instagram?

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